Samuel Collenbusch

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Samuel Collenbusch (1724-1803), contemporary silhouette

Samuel Collenbusch (* 1 September 1724 in Wichlinghausen; † 1 September 1803 in Barmen, both now districts of
Wuppertal) was a German biblicist and an important representative of pietism in the Bergisch-Rhein area.

Life and work

Collenbusch’s father Johann Peter Collenbusch was a factory owner and merchant. In 1742, under the influence of the Wichlinghausen pastor Johann Peter Wülfing, he experienced a religious awakening that was to leave its mark on him. Collenbusch studied medicine in Duisburg and Strasbourg. In 1754 he settled with his parental family in Duisburg as a doctor.

Here he also came into contact with the works of the Pietists Johann Albrecht Bengel and Friedrich Christoph Oetinger. His principles included in particular the strict orientation towards the biblical scriptures.

Collenbusch, however, continued to maintain contact with Wuppertal. For example, he took part in the Elberfeld meeting with Goethe, Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling, Johann Gerhard Hasenkamp and Johann Caspar Lavater, as described in Jung-Stilling’s life story. In 1783 he returned to Wichlinghausen.

The creeping blindness continued here. At the age of 65 he was awarded his doctorate in Duisburg with a thesis on the Schwelmer Heilbrunnen, on which Schwelm’s reputation as a spa and health resort was based at the time. His religious convictions found more and more followers, also among the well-known families in the valley. Through the revival theologian Gottfried Menken, who was married to a daughter of the Siebel family from Elberfeld, Collenbusch’s thoughts found their way into 19th century German theology.

He was critical of Kant’s philosophy on many points, which he also expressed in several letters to the Königsberg philosopher. The eminent critic Walter Benjamin memorialized Collenbusch by including one of these letters in his collection Deutsche Menschen. Eine Folge von Briefen (German People: A Series of Letters ). According to Adorno, this letter was even said to be Benjamin’s favorite. Gershom Scholem was also enthusiastic about Collenbusch’s biting questions to Kant, according to his diaries.


  • Klaus Goebel, Samuel Collenbusch, in: Wuppertaler Biographien 2. Folge. Beiträge zur Geschichte und Heimatkunde des Wuppertals Band 5.
  • Heinrich Holtzmann: Kollenbusch, Samuel. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol. 16, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1882, p. 476.
  • Hermann Cremer: Collenbusch, Samuel. In: Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche (RE). 3. Auflage. Volume 4, Hinrichs, Leipzig 1898, pp. 233-241.
  • Ernst Barnikol:Collenbusch, Samuel. In: New German Biography (NDB). Vol. 3, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1957, ISBN 3-428-00184-2, p. 322 (Digitalisat).
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz: Collenbusch, Samuel. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1, Sp. 1097-1098.